Story by Bobby Walla
At SHOT Show this past year Walther released a steel frame version of their already popular and proven Q5 Match pistol. The new model Q5SF (steel frame) incorporates almost all of the same features and options as it’s polymer predecessor. I can only assume that Walther decided to go this route because of the ever-growing popularity of heavier guns in USPSA’s Production division. With that being said, out of the box, I personally think this can be big news for 3gunners too.
Over the course of the 2019 season, I will be shooting this pistol exclusively (and excessively) to formulate as much of a non-biased opinion as possible. I plan to put a minimum of 5,000 rounds through it and provide updates at 1k, 3k, and 5k. With Walther’s proven quality, I assume that the updates will be very boring from a failure standpoint.
I figured since I just received the pistol, I would kick it off with my initial impressions after the first 500 rounds.
The first thing you notice as soon as you pick up this pistol is the weight of the gun. The reason most shooters are navigating to heavier pistols is for perceived recoil reduction. The combination of a heavy frame and lighter reciprocating mass is going to produce a “flatter” shooting gun. The Q5SF weighs in at 41.6 oz which is right in the wheelhouse of other competitors like CZ(46.5oz) and 1911 Wide-body variants (38oz-50oz+). The Q5 balances extremely well for weighing as much as it does since the slide has been lightened to compliment the heavier frame. While the slide cuts are “attractive”, they are always very functional in perceived recoil control. Like a lot of companies nowadays, Walther is milling the top rear of the slide to allow for people to mount RDS’(Red Dot Sight) to their pistols. In 3GN rules, you can use an RDS in Unlimited division and USPSA’s Carry Optics division has really created a lot of popularity in regards to usage in the shooting sports. The Q5 comes out of the box with an all black adjustable rear sight and fiber optic front sight which negates the need to purchase aftermarket iron sights.
Moving into the frame of the gun, it is jam-packed with features. Walther’s grip construction may be the most ergonomic I have personally ever felt. It seems like it contours perfectly to my hand and friends who have larger hands echoed the same thoughts. Of course, the slide lock lever and magazine release are both fully ambidextrous, so rest easy you wrong handed guys and gals! The beavertail of the grip is pronounced so those with meaty hands will not have to worry about “slide bite”. The Q5SF comes from the factory with a generous magwell and three (3) 17 round magazines with extended base pads. While it doesn’t have as large of an opening as some aftermarket options for other platforms, it seems to gobble up the mags beautifully! I was also very impressed with Walther’s execution of the undercut on the trigger guard. This is one of the first things I do when I pick up a new polymer gun so I don’t develop blisters on the knuckle that rests on the trigger guard.
Now into the trigger! Walther lists this at 5.6 lbs. I guess I’ll take their word for it, but I would have guessed it was around the 3.5-4 lb mark with how smooth it is. I personally think it has the perfect amount of pre-travel to allow for staging the trigger while presenting to the target and the rolling break through the wall allows for very easy and accurate shooting. The reset is extremely short and very tactile in feel.
From my initial impressions of the Q5SF it’s kind of difficult to find any negative points about it. Here are some very small comments that may mean nothing to you but I’d like to point them out:
- I feel that the rear sight sits very high on the slide and the rear notch is a lot tighter than I am used to using.
- The Q5SF also seems to be a little “over-sprung” when referring to the recoil spring. This is definitely a subjective assessment since some shooters, like me, will sacrifice a little more perceived recoil and flatter/faster sight tracking opposed to pure soft recoil. Keep in mind the gun is essentially still brand new so I will definitely re-visit that comment in a later update.
- While the grip is excitably ergonomic for me, I could see how some people with larger hands could potentially find it too short.
- Holster availability. Almost every time a new pistol comes to the market there is a shortage of options. The only competition oriented holster company that I know of making Q5SF gear at the moment is Veil Solutions. Another option that I have confirmed is Safariland’s 578 Pro-Fit holster which accommodates over 200 pistols!
In closing, I think the Walther Q5SF can and will be a big hit in the shooting sports and, of course, 3-Gun. The price point of the pistol is around $1,400 and the average price for a production 1911 wide-body is in the $3k area. The CZ Shadow2 is priced somewhat similarly to the Q5SF and there are definitely things I like about it, but I do not believe the Shadow2’s safety system is as intuitive as a 1911 wide-body or as simple as a striker-fired option in regards to pistol abandonment. Seems like not that big of a deal, but we’re also competing in a sport where fractions of seconds can make or break a competitor.
Stay tuned for updates sporadically throughout the season and let us know if you have any questions that might not have been covered here. If you already went out and got yourself a Q5SF, CONGRATS and go hit up Veil Solutions for a rock-solid holster to stuff it in! Also, a big thank you to Rainier Ballistics for providing ammunition for the testing phase. Rainier has graciously provided product for our competitors last season and we’re glad to have them back for 2019. They manufacturer some of the most accurate projectiles in the industry, consistency is great, and they are a “family-first” company through and through!